Financial Planning Career Paths: Joining a Firm or Starting Your Own

When you picture the next months, years, or decades in your financial planning career, what do you think about? Are you running your own firm? Or are you working your way up the ladder at a big, established company? Both are equally viable financial planning career paths, but they each offer unique pros and cons.

How do you know which one is right for you? It all depends on what you want your work and personal life to look like. Let’s look at some of the details, advantages, and disadvantages of each option. You can use this information to help you decide which direction you want to go in your financial planning career.

Financial Planning Career Option #1: Joining a Firm

A “conventional” career approach is to join an existing financial planning firm and work your way up the ladder. Of course, you don’t have to stick with the same firm throughout your career — you may end up with several different employers over the course of your career. 

Pros of Joining a Firm

There are several potential advantages of working in an existing financial planning firm:

  • Working with a team of colleagues
  • Access to mentoring opportunities
  • An established career growth path
  • Consistent income and access to a full client list 
  • Employee benefits like 401(k), health insurance, PTO, etc.

Working in an established firm can give you a stable income and a clear path forward to grow your career. You might also have access to on-the-job training or mentorship and traditional employee benefits like paid vacation and retirement programs.

Cons of Joining a Firm

However, working in an established company isn’t the right call for everyone. There are some possible disadvantages:

  • Fewer opportunities to choose your own clients
  • May not be able to use a unique approach or planning model
  • Competing with coworkers for promotions and opportunities
  • Less control of your work schedule

Consider these cons carefully when deciding whether to continue working in an existing firm. If this list includes deal-breakers for you, it might be better to consider opening your own practice.

Financial Planning Career Option #2: Starting Your Own Firm

If you’re an independent person who likes a lot of career freedom, you might consider opening your own financial planning firm. This option can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding for the right person.

Pros of Starting a Firm

Here are some of the advantages you might experience if you choose to strike out on your own:

  • Complete control over the financial planning processes and models you use
  • The chance to choose your clients and coworkers
  • More flexibility with schedule and work location
  • The chance to create positions/opportunities for new financial planners

Running your own firm gives you much more freedom and flexibility than working for someone else. However, it can also be more challenging.

Cons of Starting a Firm

Any entrepreneur will tell you that “being your own boss” isn’t without its difficulties:

  • Unstable income, especially when starting out
  • Difficulties building a reputation and attracting clients
  • Final responsibility for every aspect of your business
  • Financial costs of starting your own business
  • Taking time off requires more preparation

If you know for certain that you want to have your own firm, it can be easier to overcome these challenges. However, they can be overwhelming if you’re starting your own practice simply because you feel like you “should.”

Mapping Out Your Financial Planning Career

Some financial planners know from the very beginning of their careers whether they want to work in an established firm or start their own. But others need more time to figure out what’s right for them.

And that’s OK. You don’t have to know right away — and you can change your mind if you realize that the path you originally chose isn’t the right one. 

The most important thing is staying true to your values and priorities. What matters most to you when it comes to your work/life balance? How do you want to show up for your clients — and how much flexibility do you want to have in choosing who you work with?

Neither choice makes you a “better” financial planner. What makes you a great financial planner is making the career decisions that allow you to stay true to your personal priorities and your professional values.

Get Career Advice and Support

You might not know yet how you want your financial planning career to look. In that case, it’s important to do some research and find out as much as you can about the options that you have. The more you know, the easier it can be to figure out which path is right for you.

One of the best ways to learn more about all your financial planning career options is to connect with others in this profession. A subscription to Amplified Planning allows you to network with other planners in various niches and stages of their careers. 

You’ll get access to an online forum, educational resources, and hands-on training exercises to build your skills. Learn more about Amplified Planning subscriptions and join today!

If the financial arguments are constant or start veering into conflicts about other issues, you may want to encourage them to see a counselor — but use this approach cautiously. Many people are sensitive about their personal relationships and might not appreciate that kind of advice coming from their financial planner.

Want to see real-life examples of handling conflict in a client meeting? Subscribe to Amplified Planning CORE. You’ll get to watch recordings of client meetings and see how an experienced financial planner handles tough conversations and emotional discussions about money. Find out more and join today!